DESPITE the restrictions brought about by Covid-19, an age-old tradition will take place in Limerick tonight, as the city bids farewell to 2021.
The bells will toll over St Mary's Cathedral at Bridge Street on the stroke of midnight, the first time they have done so since 2019.
Cathedral Dean Niall Sloane confirmed the return of the bells, a tradition which has gone on for centuries in Limerick.
Pre-millennium thousands of people used to attend the bells, often coming straight from the pubs which at the time would have closed at 11pm. These would have been accompanied by fireworks.
He said: "The bells will ring New Year's Eve. Unfortunately there will be restricted numbers, but people are invited to gather around the cathedral and listen in. Just take all the normal precautions in mind - social distancing and face masks where feasible."
Sadly, however, the St Mary's Prize Band will be unable to perform on the street outside, its bandmaster Derek Mulcahy has confirmed.
"Unfortunately we will not be playing New Year's Eve because of the Covid-19 situation," he said, "Covid-19 is so widespread. It feels like every house has it. It's for health and safety reasons primarily."
Elsewhere across Limerick, celebrations will be on the marginal side, with pubs still compelled by law to close by 8pm.
Public Health Mid-West have advised people across the region to limit their social contacts tonight.
"If you have symptoms, if you are awaiting a PCR test result, if you are a close contact, or if you are in any doubt that you may have been exposed to Covid-19 through social activity or work, please do not attend any gathering or meet other people this weekend," said Dr Rose Fitzgerald, a specialist in public health medicine.
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